At Eltham College, we believe in the power reading can have on people, especially the youngest. Beyond the enjoyment of engaging stories, reading forges young minds, fosters a love of learning, and equips children with essential skills for life.  Our Librarian, Caroline Roche, outlines the vital role reading plays in inspiring their curiosity and building their self-confidence.

Studies consistently show that regular reading matters since it improves brain development, strengthens memory, and hones critical thinking skills in young people. As children dive into different worlds and stories within books, they learn new vocabulary, decipher complex narratives, and engage in mental gymnastics, all contributing to a sharper and more agile mind.

But the benefits of reading extend far beyond cognitive gains. Reading opens doors to countless adventures, ignites curiosity, and fuels empathy. As children journey through fictional landscapes, they encounter diverse characters, grapple with challenging situations, and experience a kaleidoscope of emotions. This fosters their understanding of the world, cultivates compassion, and sparks a lifelong love of learning.

There is of course fictional and non-fictional reading. While fiction inspires imagination, fosters a sense of adventure, and helps children develop their self-expression and ideas, access to good non-fiction and reference books are equally vital.  While text books are of course vital in study, there are many excellent reference books that complement and enrich a child’s knowledge of how the world works – culturally, scientifically, economically, politically, historically and in many other ways too.

Whether they read fiction or non-fiction or both, by fostering a love of reading in your child, you’re equipping them with invaluable tools for life, says Roche. They’ll develop stronger communication skills, a wider vocabulary, and a deeper understanding of the world around them. They’ll become more confident learners, critical thinkers, and empathetic individuals. As Albert Einstein said, “The only source of knowledge is experience,” and reading provides a vast and enriching journey of experience for young minds.

Unfortunately, access to books remains a challenge for too many families. Ensuring your child has access to physical books, either through public or school libraries, is crucial. Research highlights the strong correlation between book ownership and reading attainment, with the National Literacy Trust study demonstrating that the number of books in a home is even more influential than parental education or socio-economic background.

Moreover, reading for enjoyment on paper offers significant benefits over digital reading. The University of Valencia’s research indicates that comprehension is 6-8 times higher when reading physical books compared to digital devices for the same duration. At Eltham, we encourage parents to provide their children with physical copies of books as well as eBooks to ensure optimal learning and engagement.

As we continue to foster a nurturing environment for reading at Eltham College, it’s evident that the benefits of reading are crucial in the growth of children. By nurturing a love of reading in all its forms, including both physical and digital formats, we empower our students to become confident and effective learners, prepared to thrive in a diverse, multicultural and fast-changing world.

For more information and resources about why reading matters, see below: